National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Madonna and Child with Angels and Cherubim Matteo di Giovanni (artist)
Sienese, c. 1430 - 1497
Madonna and Child with Angels and Cherubim, c. 1460/1465
tempera on poplar panel
painted surface: 69.7 x 49.5 cm (27 7/16 x 19 1/2 in.) overall size: 79 x 58 cm (31 1/8 x 22 13/16 in.) framed: 99.7 x 78.1 x 8.3 cm (39 1/4 x 30 3/4 x 3 1/4 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
On View
From the Tour: Siena in the 1400s
Object 3 of 7

This panel painted early in the career of Matteo di Giovanni reflects the format of devotional images made popular in Siena by Sano di Pietro, but reveals the artist's own developing interests in representing space and heightened emotion.

Like Sano's panel, Madonna and Child with Saint Jerome, Saint Bernardino, and Angels, this panel is enriched with gold. Matteo, too, has framed his mother and child with angels and cherubim, but here the surrounding figures crowd each other and overlap, creating several different planes in the picture space. Matteo's child, unlike the formal and regally clad boy of Sano's picture, is an infant who grasps his mother's fingers. Their contact is more direct—a caress under the chin—and their emotional tie more explicit. The mood, however, is one of wistful melancholy, expressed in the Virgin's lowered eyelids and reflected in the faces of the angels. The crowding of the figures and the disembodied heads of the cherubim contribute an unsettling sense of foreboding. Matteo's later paintings are marked by violent emotion.

Matteo was not born in Siena but probably received most of his training there. His later works also reveal a familiarity with Florentine artists such as Pollaiuolo. A prolific artist, Matteo's reputation among contemporaries outshone that of other artists better known today.

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